Freelancing is nothing new in journalism. A publication wants to include many more voices than the largest staff can contain. But with the gig economy, piecework is becoming more the norm than the exception.
Being on a staff, however, offers protection beyond insurance and a salary. It is an institutional commitment, vital when controversy starts chopping the waters, as is inevitable when a journalist does what he or she is supposed to do: agitate the public.
Canadian cartoonist Michael de Adder was let go from his New Brunswick, Canada, publishing company this week, after he tweeted this cartoon of Donald Trump regarding the bodies of the father and daughter who drowned in Rio Grande while trying to cross into Texas and saying "Do you mind if I play through?"
While there is a question whether he was let go because of this cartoon—Brunswick News, the Canadian company, denies it—the timing is suspicious. Media companies, particularly right wingers, have a way of purging divergent thought, lest it scorch the eyes of their readers and viewers.
Here's another irony. Thirty years ago, Sun-Times cartoonist Jack Higgins drew almost the exact same cartoon, mocking vice president candidate Dan Quayle for hiding out from the Vietnam War in the Indiana National Guard. The paper didn't fire Higgins; rather, it submitted the drawing for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for excellence in editorial cartooning. It won.